Carl Lewis is an American former track and field athlete who won nine Olympic gold medals, one Olympic silver medal, and 10 World Championships medals, including eight gold.
His career spanned from 1979 to 1996, when he last won an Olympic event.
He is one of only three Olympic athletes who won a gold medal in the same individual event in four consecutive Olympic Games.
- Full name: Frederick Carlton “Carl” Lewis
- Profession: American track and field athlete
- Born: 1 July 1961 (age 58 years), Birmingham, Alabama, United States
- Height: 1.88 m
- Spouse: Maria Lewis
- Albums: Bearing the Sax – EP
- Gold medals: Athletics at the 1996 Summer Olympics – Men’s long jump
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About Carl Lewis
Lewis was born on 1 July 1961 Birmingham, Alabama, United States.
The son of William Lewis (1927–1987) and Evelyn née Lawler Lewis. His mother was a hurdler on the 1951 Pan-Am team.
His older brother Cleveland Lewis played professional soccer for the Memphis Rogues.
His parents ran a local athletics club that provided a crucial influence on both him and his sister, Carol.
She became an elite long jumper, finishing 9th at the 1984 Olympics and taking bronze at the 1983 World Championships.
Lewis was initially coached by his father, who also coached other local athletes to elite status.
At age 13, Lewis began competing in the long jump, and he emerged as a promising athlete while coached by Andy Dudek and Paul Minore at Willingboro High School in his hometown of Willingboro Township, New Jersey.
He achieved the ranking of fourth on the all-time World Junior list of long jumpers.
Many colleges tried to recruit Lewis, and he chose to enroll at the University of Houston where Tom Tellez was coach.
Tellez would thereafter remain Lewis’s coach for his entire career. Days after graduating from high school in 1979, Lewis broke the high school long jump record with a leap of 8.13 m (26 ft 8 in).
By the end of 1979, Lewis was ranked fifth in the world for the long jump, according to Track and Field News.
An old knee injury had flared up again at the end of the high school year, and this might have had consequences on his fitness.
Lewis worked with Tellez and adapted his technique so that he was able to jump without pain, and he went on to win the 1980 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) title with a wind-assisted jump of 8.35 m (27 ft 4 1⁄2 in).
Though his focus was on the long jump, he was now starting to emerge as a talent in the sprints. Comparisons were beginning to be made with Jesse Owens, who dominated sprint and long jump events in the 1930s.
Lewis qualified for the American team for the 1980 Olympics in the long jump and as a member of the 4 × 100 m relay team.
The Olympic boycott precluded Lewis from competing in Moscow; he instead participated in the Liberty Bell Classic in July 1980, which was an alternate meet for boycotting nations.
He jumped 7.77 m (25 ft 5 3⁄4 in) for a bronze medal, and the American 4 × 100 m relay team won gold with a time of 38.61 s.
He received one of 461 Congressional Gold Medals created especially for the athletes precluded from competing in the 1980 Olympics.
At year’s end, he was ranked 6th in the world in the long jump and 7th in the 100 m.
Lewis was a dominant sprinter and long jumper who topped the world rankings in the 100 m, 200 m and long jump events frequently from 1981 to the early 1990s.
He set world records in the 100 m, 4 × 100 m and 4 × 200 m relays, while his world record in the indoor long jump has stood since 1984.
His 65 consecutive victories in the long jump achieved over a span of 10 years is one of the sport’s longest undefeated streaks.
Over the course of his athletics career, Lewis broke 10 seconds for the 100 meters fifteen times and 20 seconds for the 200 meters ten times. Lewis also long jumped over 28 feet seventy-one times.
His accomplishments have led to numerous accolades, including being voted “World Athlete of the Century” by the International Association of Athletics Federations and “Sportsman of the Century” by the International Olympic Committee, “Olympian of the Century” by Sports Illustrated and “Athlete of the Year” by Track & Field News in 1982, 1983, and 1984.
After retiring from his athletics career, Lewis became an actor and has appeared in a number of films.
In 2011, he attempted to run for a seat as a Democrat in the New Jersey Senate, but was removed from the ballot due to the state’s residency requirement.
Lewis owns a marketing and branding company named C.L.E.G., which markets and brands products and services including his own.